Enugu Govt, CBN Partnership Empowers Rice Farmers

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enugu govThe Central Bank of Nigeria under its pet project, Anchor Borrowers
Programme, in partnership with Enugu State Government has made further
disbursement of credit facilities/inputs to Okunerere Rice Farmers
from Nsukka zone of the state.
A similar gesture was extended to rice farmer’s cooperative groups
from Enugu zone when the programme was flagged off last week Friday at
Okpara Square, Enugu.
Speaking on the occasion, Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi
Ugwuanyi, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Hon. Cecelia
Ezeillo, described the project as the miracle of five loaves and two
fishes, noting that farmers in the state were already recording
tremendous bumper harvests with yields of up to 5.5 metric tons per
hectare.
He said that the programme would without doubt stimulate rice paddy
production in the state and as well enable all rice processors in the
state to get sufficient feed stock for their rice processing mills.
Governor Ugwuanyi noted that the beauty of the programme was based on
the fact that the farmers would not need to look for market to sell
their rice paddy as the ‘off takers’ Okunerere Mills, Tara Agro
Industries Ltd and others with subsisting MOU’s with the state
government would purchase all rice produced by the farmers.
He commended the initiative and stated that when fully operational in
two years, it is expected to drastically reduce food importation,
diversify the country’s economy and create jobs for women and youths.
He, therefore, enjoined CBN to extend the gesture to other commodities
such as Cashew, Poultry, Banana, Pineapple etc, while entreating the
farmers to abide by all the agreements reached with the rice
processors and the banks so as to ensure the successful implementation
and sustenance of the programme.
Speaking earlier, the representative of the CBN Governor on the
occasion, Charles Enwerem, said that the choice of Enugu
State as one of the pilot states for the programme derives from the
fact that it is the highest rice producing state in the South Eastern
part of the country.
The programme, he pointed out, is aimed at reducing the country’s
huge food import bill of over N1 trillion annually by encouraging
farmers to go back to their farms, stating that it hopes to establish
a linkage between farmers and processors in order to ramp up capacity
utilization at the integrated mills.
He stated that CBN under the scheme had mapped out the sum of N40
billion out of N220 billion Micro Small and Medium Enterprises
Development Fund (MSMEDF) to be availed to farmers at single digit
interest rates of 9.0 percent per annum, while small holder farmers
were entitled to loans ranging from N150,000 to N250,000 to assist
them in procuring necessary agricultural inputs.
Rev Father Paul Obayi the priest in charge of the Okunerere Farmers
Group, in his response, thanked the governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi
Ugwuanyi, for his support and visionary leadership, stating that he was
the one that made the inclusion of his group into the scheme possible.
He promised that given the financial and logistic support from CBN and
the state government he was targeting to raise one hundred thousand
rice farmers in Enugu state with enough capacity to make the state
self sufficient in the production of rice.
The highlight of the occasion was the distribution of rice seedlings,
bags of fertilizer, weed killers and cash to the farmers.

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